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Community of Practice

Introduction

The concept of "communities of practice" is of relatively recent date. The concept gained momentum with Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger's book from 1991, Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Since then, the notion of ‘communities of practice’ has been a focus of attention, not least in debates about learning, teaching and education, but also in debates about organizational theory, knowledge management and work-life studies. The latter development accelerated with Wenger's later book Communities of Practice (Wenger, 1998), but also picked up fuel from neighboring texts by – amongst others - Paul Duguid & John Seely Brown (Brown & Duguid 1991) and Julian Orr (Orr, 1996). The concept of communities of practice offers a dynamic and non-individualistic framing of learning as a social and situated activity oriented towards participation in social practice. From this also springs a number of interesting observations about human agency, cooperation,